E’E‘Gor IT on

CONDOMS: lovely, lubricated, latex love machines, or limp detractors from the business in hand? However you regard them, they’re an increasingly essential part of that special moment. To mark World AIDS Day on 1 December, we’re devoting five whopping pages to them, as Thom Dibdin explains.

hat’s yours called? In Lothian playgrounds they snigger at Flunkies, in Strathclyde they’re Johnny Bags while in Nairn they’re simply known as Crisp Packets. In London, Gongies are in and Dunkies rule in Walthamstow. Down in Essex, an informant reports that if they’re used at all, they pull them over their heads and blow them up with their nostrils.

Johnnys, rubbers, FLs and Durex are the most frequently mentioned names for the condom. Over 80 different words for a condom came up while researching this article. From Boswell’s ‘armour’ to the playground ‘willy warmer’. The word ‘condom’ itself didn’t become popular until the mid—80$, when professionals had to appear in public and talk about sex in relation to AIDS. It’s a clinical, medicinal word, which fails to impart the nature of the fun that can be had with one.

Most people have an embarrassing anecdote to relate. Such as the mum who when inadvertently locked out of the house by her daughter was trying to persuade the toddler to pass the keys through the letter box and got only her (large) condom supply. And in front of the neighbours too!

The Roman Catholic Church has the most intransigent doctrine on condom use. ‘Because sex is designed to take place within marriage or a stable relationship that’s equivalent to marriage,’ says spokesperson Father Tom Conolly, ‘we see no use for prophylactics or contraceptives. We do not see any extenuating circumstances.’ Not even when one partner is HIV positive? ‘That has got nothing to do with it.’ He does, however, point out that there are many thousands of Catholics who do use contraception. The decision to do so is between them and God.

‘The encouragement is for celibacy before


marriage, and faithfulness within marriage,’ says David Kellock of the Church of Scotland’s Social Responsibility Unit. ‘But for those who can’t go along with this, or won’t, then be responsible.’ He is far more interested in talking about the Church’s work in Africa. In countries like Uganda and Malawi one third of the population is dying from AIDS. Another third will be disabled by being unwell and the remaining third: children, old people and the sick, are already dependents.

Bringing the issue back home, David Blunkett, Shadow Health Minister, says that ‘AIDS poses one of the greatest threats to public health in this century and Scotland has been right in the firing line’. Over 10 per cent of people who are HIV positive in the UK live in Scotland.

This AIDS talk is very serious. But making sure you don’t catch the virus can be a rather pleasurable experience. So don’t forget your Merry Widow, your Port Said Garter, One-piece Overcoat, Manhattan Skin, ! Coney Island Whitebait, F roggie, Phallic Thimble or whatever you call it. i

See the various listings sections for details of World AIDS Day events on Tue 1 Dec.

The List 20 November 3 December 199211